The Power of Non-Violent Communication: Needs

My Non-Violent Communication Discovery weekend begin with me feeling upbeat and, frankly, jazzed to be there. Over the past year, I had such valuable experiences with NVC just by reading the book.

Non-Violent Communication or Compassionaite Communication is a set of ideas and practices to support authentic and vulnerable connections with one and other. Through NVC we are able to support ourselves and others in tapping into their life energy

What are needs?
Everything you have done or will ever do is to fulfill your needs. This includes thoughts (subconscious and conscious), words and actions.

If I feel enlivened, after taking a swim in the morning; if I feel frustrated for not being acknowledged for my work; or, if negative self-talk (e.g., “Why were you so lazy today?) arises – it is all to meet my needs.

Upon first hearing this, I felt quite surprised to hear that even my perceived negative-self-talk is for the purpose of fulling my needs.

Thoughts > Feelings > Needs:
NVC Circle

The purpose of this diagram is to show us how recognizing judgements and how pervasive and invisible they are. If think someone is right or wrong; if I think something should or should not happen, if label someone, etc.

Everything in the outer layer of the circle – Every judgement word – has a feeling and need behind it. For example, if I call someone “stupid,” I may be feeling frustrated and have a need for understanding and connection.

Our judgements/labels are indicators of our feelings, and our feelings give us an understanding of our needs. In this way, everything we think and experience supports us in understanding our svadharma (personal calling).

Internal Dialogue: Examples Showing How Judgements Lead to Our Needs

Thoughts/Judgements Feeling Needs (or Values)
I am “lazy” I am feeling frustrated I am needing (or value) effectiveness
I am a “slob” I am feeling repulsion, self-conscious I am needing ease, health/well-being
You are “needy” I am feeling mistrustrful I am needing (or value) mutality

In any situation, whether you are judging our perceiving judgement, do you want to focus on the pain or on transformation? In doing so, we are acknolwedging the choice of which need we fulfill.

`For example, if I call myself “lazy” it may be an attempt to motivate myself. Perhaps, it is my attempt to express frustration because my need for effectiveness is not being met.

Perhaps, the reality is I value “effectiveness” (a personal need), and I am mourning the lack of it. Instead of using judgements to “motivate” yourself, you can use positive statements — e.g., “I love effectiveness.”

If you imagine the brain as a programable robot, and that you are a programmer — it shifts the paradigm. Feelings and needs come from the mind, but they are not the mind. Thoughts program our mind — our memory. We have thought habits.

If we are able to keep our needs in our awareness, you can meet your needs in many different ways (strategies), and, most importantly, I am given choice on who and what meets my needs.

The Yogic Perspective of NVC:

Throughout the first day, I was having a lot of trouble reconciling this with ideas and belief systems around detachment and desire. Kumari, one of the individuals helping out during the weekend, suggested there is no difference between need and desire: Discovery and Joy are equally important to Food and Water.

Desire is a strategy; desirelessness is being detached from the strategy. For example, people in higher-states of consciousness (e.g., nirvana or enlightenment) are open to whatever the universe gives them.

*I am still trying to understand whether this holds true for equanimity and awareness on bodily sensations?

Our Life Training to Not Feel and to Not Have Needs:
We are trained that feelings and needs are bad. During school if we were hungry, we are told to wait. During school if we were tired, we are told to pay attention. As a man, I have been countless times to “man up” and not cry.

We are preprogrammed to value certain needs over others. For example, if a young boy or girl cries, he or she is told to be a “big boy” or “big girl” and to stop crying.

Any time a society starts to preordain what needs are more important than others, it creates a control on people and society.